“Worrying is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” ~Unknown
I am a worrier by nature. As a small child, I would spend the night before the start of school worrying if I would like my teacher, enjoy the new subjects I would learn, or if my friends would still like. In my teenage years, I worried about how I looked, how I dressed, if boys would think I was pretty, and if I would make good grades. Fast forward a few years, and I worry about my job, the economy, raising my daughter….and at least a dozen more things – all of which are beyond my control. Worrying leaves me feeling on edge, anxious, and often as though I am operating in a fog.
Turns out according to this study, the mind of an anxious woman has to work harder to perform tasks.
No wonder it is harder to complete a project, when I am worrying about the looming deadline.
Realizing that worrying is doing me a lot more harm than good, I went off in search of ways to combat my anxiety. Here are my 4 tops ways to deal with worry
1. Face my Fears: I am worrying that I won’t meet a deadline at work. I allow myself a few minutes to think thru what the outcome would be if that happened. As I play out the scenario in my mind, I realize that my fear (getting fired on the spot) is highly unlikely. Realistically, my boss would express some displeasure, but would ask me to explain why I missed the deadline. I come to realize that if I really believe that my deadline is unattainable, then I can reach out to my boss or other coworkers for help.
2. Limit my worry time: In a perfect world, I would NEVER worry. But that is not going to happen. Instead, I am learning to allow myself a few minutes a day to worry (for me it’s 5-10 in the morning). I write out the things I am concerned with, pray over them, and the focus on the good things in my life (this is usually when I write my gratitude list).
3. Take a deep breath and move: Sometimes all it takes is a deep breath for me to wash away the worry and refocus. Other days, I need to move. Last week, I could not get a bank statement to reconcile (I’m an accountant by trade) and I felt my anxiety level creeping up. I told my boss that I was taking a quick walk around our office campus. 10 minutes later, I came back to my desk and solved the problem. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I would use lunchtime workouts or evening runs as I way to clear my mind from the pre-baby worries.
4. Reduce my caffeine intake: Caffeine may be great for keeping you energized, but it can also intensify your sense of anxiety as it stimulates your nervous system. I love my morning cup of coffee as much as anyone, but I have reduced my consumption from 2 cups a day to 1 cup every other day, as well as eliminating sodas from my diet. Within a week, I noticed a significant change in my worry/anxiety levels. I remarked to my husband that even on stressful days, I felt less jittery and on edge.
Things to think about: Are you a worrier by nature? What things do you worry about? How do you handle worry and anxiety?